Saturday, August 15, 2015

Don't Bike On My American Road, You Crazy European!

The Frau became an avid biker in Switzerland. In her village, she'd go out the door and bike up road that led to the castle above her town and to the woods beyond that. The only danger around was the police, who once pulled her over for biking in a pedestrian zone.

Back in Chicago now, The Frau wishes she could keep up her biking. It's a nice way to get a workout and avoid using a car, but unfortunately, she doesn't like biking around her Chicago suburb. The roads are filled with potholes and it's hard to find a road without a lot of traffic. Bike lanes are non-existent and sidewalks aren't wide enough for someone with a bike trailer. 

There is a lovely path through a forest preserve to the Brookfield Zoo, which The Frau biked last weekend, but the forest preserve it goes through is divided into sections and one must cross multiple-lane highways at least five times before they get to the zoo. And there are no overpasses or underpasses for biker and pedestrian traffic like there are in Switzerland. It's quite dangerous. 

Today solidified the cultural mindset towards active Americans. The Frau was biking home from a local farmer's market, pulling Toddler M in a bike trailer, when a driver passing her said, "You shouldn't ride that on the road."

Wow. Excuse The Frau. But where should she ride her bike? On the non-existent sidewalk? If any fellow American has an answer for where The Frau should ride her bike in America, The Frau is all ears. Because come on, people. Have overweight, inactive Americans driving large vehicles won the right to all American roads? 

So far, due to a lack of bike lanes and safe pedestrian crossings, sadly, The Frau must say yes.


JJ Marsh said...

The biking, the forest gym, the ease of swimming in lakes - thanks Chantal. Your comments remind me how I should appreciate such provision for health and sports. I guess we need to step away to realise what we have. Great post.

Bruny Hudson said...

What the roads are for American drivers are the sidewalks for American pedestrians. After several cursing drivers attempted to run me off the road, I tried to ride my bike on the sidewalk only to come face to face with very angry pedestrians claiming the sidewalk belonged to them and them alone.

Chantal said...

JJ Marsh, ja, The Frau misses the great Swiss outdoors more than anything else.

Bruny, ja bikers cannot win in this country. It's why The Frau doesn't bike much anymore and when she does, it's with trepidation.

Emily said...

You should move to Boston, or at least the Cambridge side of Boston. We bike all over the place, even in the winter. There are bike lanes and bike paths. The bike paths even get plowed in the winter, as if they were real roads. In fact, one of the major roads along the Charles River is closed to cars on Sundays so that pedestrians and bikes can enjoy it.

Chantal said...

Boston sounds good to The Frau!

Ginger45 said...

America should be more bike friendly but alas my hubby works for the road dept here in Calif. The bicycle riders here are constantly holding up traffic on dangerous mountain roads. People get angry with them because they knowingly ride way out in the lane when there is room on the right side of the fog line. It does get frustrating on highways and it's plain dangerous. Now in the city, yes a valid form of transport and slower drivers.....Portland is a great city for bicyclist..we need to look to Copenhagen as they are the most bike friendly city in the world!

Hattie said...

My son in law bike commutes to work in Seattle and is a biker advocate and activist. There is hope.

Kim said...

The only successful road biking here in the western suburbs of Chicago is by biking at 6am on a Sunday. Still have to bike on the roads (and try your best to avoid the potholes) but at least there are not many cars or traffic on the roads. Still nothing like switzerland.....

Anonymous said...

In the States living in an actual city or in the countryside and not in a suburban area makes all the difference. In the case of many cities and rural areas vs suburbs.

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